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Ice cream charity – Balancing profits, philanthropy

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Ben & Jerry’s, the ice cream maker famous for its quirky style and commitment to socially responsible business, may be bought by an investor group after struggling to reconcile its social mission with business pressures, Reuters reports.

The company, which generated $237 million in revenues last year, suffered dwindling stocks until the owners disclosed last year they were entertaining an offer from a group of potential buyers.

The investor group includes Meadowbrook Lane Capital, Anglo-Dutch consumer products company Unilever and company co-founder Ben Cohen.

Founding partner Jerry Greenfield would not be a part of the group.

As Ben & Jerry’s has grown, it has been forced to balance its unconventional tactics with mounting business pressures.

For example, in 1985 the company adopted a pay structure that limited the top salary to five times the lowest.

Ten years later, the policy was scrapped to attract top talent, Reuters reports.

The two founders, who met in 7th-grade gym glass in New York, started their firm in a converted gas station after taking a $5 correspondence course in making ice cream.

Ben and Jerry insist that their social mission, which includes giving 7.5 percent of pretax profits to charity and buying only hormone-free dairy products from Vermont farmers, will remain intact if the company goes private.

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